Up, up and Huawei

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/ Smartphones

A new crop of handsets has raised the bar.

Consider this: there are more kinds of smartphone available to buy than at any time previously, but less choice. If that sounds a contradiction, it’s because the range of software has shrunk to two: iOS (Apple) and Android. BlackBerry, once the biggest player, has quit the high street altogether. Microsoft still owns Windows Phone but released its last model in February. The good news is that the rival systems are available on a multitude of handsets. Apple is offering more iPhones than ever before, from the retro SE (£379) to the powerful 7 Plus (add all the bells and whistles and you’ll barely get change from £1,000). And Android runs on an array of devices, including the Pixel from Google, which although it has owned Android for years has only now put its name on a handset. Sony has drawn on its television and camera expertise for the new Xperia XZ, and China’s Huawei is making an impressive play for the high-end market. If you don’t need the cutting-edge specification of those phones, Wileyfox, a British company, has packed a surprising amount of technology into a much lower-priced model.

Huawei Mate 9 £600
Leica, a German company beloved by photographers, has designed not two but three cameras for the 5.9in Mate 9: a powerful 20Mp main device with a backup 12Mp sensor used to enhance low-light shots and produce effects, plus an 8Mp front-facer. The battery’s nearly twice the size of others here, too, making this phone an impressive new entrant. huawei.com


Apple iPhone 7 £599
The 2014 iPhone 6 was a global hit, so Apple has stuck with the shape and 4.7in screen. There are improvements, though: speed and camera tweaks, waterproofing and a touchscreen that buzzes subtly wherever you tap. apple.com/uk

Sony Xperia XZ £540
Sony’s flagship handset is an angular slab that can feel slippery but stands out from the Android crowd. The 5.2in display is “only” HD but it’s a stunner; the handset is waterproof and the camera has SLR-style modes. sonymobile.com

Google Pixel XL £719
This is the big-screen (5.5in) Pixel, obviously intended as Google’s iPhone. So you get sharp quad-HD resolution and one of the best phone cameras yet, but the handset looks anonymous and is not waterproof. madeby.google.com


Wileyfox Swift 2 £159
Fingerprint recognition, metal body, 16Mp camera — the spec list for last year’s top phones is now found in this budget Brit challenger. Where it cuts costs is in memory (16GB) and a lower-resolution screen. wileyfox.com

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